Tuesday, July 9, 2013
For I've been a distant blogger for the past year (literally one year ago last week). But, I was distant for good reason, of course. Actually looking back at some of my entries on here reminded me that I wasn't in the best of places at this time last year. It’s not that I haven’t thought of you, or this blog. The comments show up in my inbox on a daily basis – still to this day - and I thank you for them. The real reason for my disappearance was that I needed to take some time away from the HIV world to get my live in order.
I’m happy to report that my life indeed is in order – I have a great job, a loving family, a large support group that keeps me strong and most importantly, stable health insurance.
Yet, the most important point I’d like to say is that I've been re-inspired to return to my advocacy and my work in the HIV and AIDS community. And I thank everyone in the community, including you, for pushing me to do so. How’d it happen? Well, pull up a chair, grab a glass of wine and I’ll tell you.
On July 7 and 8, I attended the aaa+’s (formerly known as the ADAP Advocacy Association)in partnership with the Community Access National Network, 6th Annual Conference entitled, “AIDS Drug Assistance Programs: Renewing the Commitment”. We had people of all backgrounds attend – advocates, doctors, specialists, case workers, PLWHA, pharmaceutical representatives, individuals in politics and more. Topics of discussion included, but not limited to, HIV criminalization, the current state of The Ryan White Care Act, including where it stands come time for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicaid and the pathology of HIV and its antiretrovirals.
I was asked to sit on a panel of fellow bloggers to discuss Access to Care as it related to when I was newly diagnosed three and a half years ago, which still seems like it was yesterday. I’ll get back to the background of this panel in a moment.
Before any of the meetings began I was warmly greeted by friends and advocates – many of whom I had no idea would remember me – that I hadn't seen in over two years since the last time I attended aaa+’s conference. It was after I was reacquainted with everyone had it started to dawn on me the mistake I made for turning my back on this community. However, I do believe my breath taking was needed for my own sanity.
Sitting on the discussions I re-educated myself on the current stages and next steps for different advocacy efforts. During the evening reception I spoke with several women and we had a seemingly lucrative discussion regarding disclosure of status. This unexpected, yet stimulating conversation gave me an idea for my next blog entry; with the help of Wanda Brendle Moss I’ll get a woman’s view to side with mine regarding disclosure and how it should be addressed differently for gay men from straight women and other categories – stay tuned.
Back to the conference. At the end of Day 2 was it time for the bloggers to facilitate what at the time I didn't realize was going to be a most successful breakout session. Hosted by Robert Breining, Founder and radio host of POZIAM.com, I sat beside Candace Montague of TheBody.com and the always lovely and entertaining Mark S. King of “My Fabulous Disease”. We were off to the races and each told our stories in addition to sharing our views regarding access to care following our diagnosis. Candace, who was able to provide her insight from an HIV negative perspective, spoke about recently released convicts and returning them to civilization while making sure they, too have access to care and every day necessities. The reaction from the audience was beyond gratifying. Here I thought to myself prior to the start of the panel, “Why would these people care about what we have to say?”
Boy, was I way off.
Meanwhile, the reality is that the community does read our work(s) and care a lot more that I could have imagined. In fact, just before the session came to a close, the last comment during the Q&A came from a lovely lady by the name of Terry of Philadelphia. In a nutshell, this grandmother explained how when she learned of her diagnosis she never felt more alone, with no one to turn to for help because she didn't know of anyone in her life that actually had the virus. Thanks to our contribution of taking HIV and putting it at a human perspective rather than a clinical one, she felt that she had a family and that she wasn't
alone and was going to be, “OK”. While saying all this she began to tear up (and so did a few others). Everyone clapped at Terry and another woman got out of her chair to give her a hug.
Terry, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for solidifying my re-inspiration. You’re an angel in so many ways and we need you just as much as you needed us.
The result: here I am – returning to my blog and my YouTube page to vocalize myself, once again.
So, to all my avid followers: Many thanks for reading, thanks for your patience and thanks for allowing me the time for my hiatus. However, I’m back now and ready to apply ink to the paper and reintroduce my voice, including HIV policy, disclosure, advice for the newly diagnosed, etc., in addition to any HIV-related topics you’d like me to discuss.
With that said let me reintroduce my voice to those that remember me, and to those that are meeting me for the first time:
MY NAME IS CHRISTOPHER, I’M 30 YEARS OLD, I LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY, AND I’M HIV POSITIVE AND HAPPY.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Note: HATE MAIL will be reported)
Links from this post
Host of the conference
ADAP Advocacy Association (aaa+): http://www.adapadvocacyassociation.org/
Community Access National Network: www.tiicann.org
More info on HIV Criminalization
Sero Project: www.seroproject.com
Robert Breining: www.poziam.org
Mark S. King: http://myfabulousdisease.com/ (also find him at www.TheBody.com and the Huffington Post)
Posted by Christopher Myron